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Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform

The Challenge of Near-Zero-Emissions Steel

Shifting global steel production to cleaner power sources requires major investments and transformational technological shifts this decade. Industry-backed roadmaps estimate we need at least 70 low-emissions steel plants built in the short term to reach net zero by 2050. Most existing plants will only have one retrofitting opportunity between now and midcentury, so these investments must happen now.

The good news? Demand for near-zero-emissions steel is there. Consumer companies have made ambitious commitments to procure cleanly-produced steel through initiatives like the First Mover’s Coalition and SteelZero. To meet these commitments, RMI estimates US annual demand for near-zero emissions steel will reach 6.7 million tons by 2030. The problem is that demand is not yet aggregated into the purchasing agreements that project owners need to get financing to build new plants.

The Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform (SSBP) was designed to solve this problem. The SSBP brings together ambitious corporations in steel-intensive sectors like technology, manufacturing, and construction, and helps them translate ambitious commitments into real purchasing potential. By convening steel purchasers and coordinating collective low-emissions steel procurement in North America, the SSBP is giving steelmakers the offtake agreements they need to spur project investment and accelerate the energy transition across this vital sector.

About the Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform

The Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform is a first-of-its-kind buyers’ group accelerating steel decarbonization through collaborative procurement and market action in the iron and steel sectors. We are working to accelerate the path to net-zero steel by driving investment in deeply decarbonized ironmaking technologies, stimulating the initial supply of near-zero emissions steel, and supporting large steel customers in achieving their supply chain emissions targets.

The SSBP was launched with support from multiple sector experts and thought partners such as the First Mover Coalition, Climate Group, and Responsible Steel. To maintain transparency throughout the joint procurement process, the Platform is building off of RMI’s work developing product-level emissions guidance with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), as well as financial industry reporting standards in the Sustainable STEEL Principles.

The SSBP is complementary to efforts like the Climate Group’s SteelZero and the First Mover Coalition’s Near-Zero Steel by 2030 initiative that focus on gaining commitments and pledges towards lower emissions steel because it provides the next step towards offtake for buyers. We are working closely with these groups to ensure the Platform process can help deliver on corporate targets and pledges.

Learn more about the SSBP in its launch webinar.

The North American Procurement Process

The SSBP’s first procurement round will aim to deliver near-zero-emissions steel to North America.

Existing federal incentives in the US and Canada can bring cleaner production pathways in line with conventional fossil-based pathways, however commercial-scale near-zero-emissions iron and steel projects still face large capital investment requirements. Based on financing strategies utilized by recent near-zero-emissions steel developments, we know that obtaining large buyer purchasing agreements and early green premiums are critical in helping suppliers reach Final Investment Decision.

The SSBP is gathering insights into key market challenges from steel producers and other stakeholders in the North American supply chain to inform and refine a subsequent request-for-proposal (RFP) with details on buyers’ needed volumes, delivery timelines, and emissions performance. The processes aim to:

  • Provide purchasers with a direct method to lock in new supply.
  • Translate purchaser demand into detailed specifications and contracted offtake that can support a producer’s low-emissions steel production investment decision.
  • Collaboratively establish solutions for the key issues relating to emissions measurement, verification, and reporting requirements, as well as feasible volumes, timelines, and contracting models.

SSBP members are working collaboratively through the RFP up to the point of price discovery on the green premium. Following this, the buyers will negotiate individual offtake agreements based on the collectively discovered green premium and other offtake arrangements (e.g., steel specifications, pricing, etc.). By working together, members will help accomplish the SSBP’s broader goal of sending producers a powerful enough demand signal to encourage the deployment of a first-of-its-kind, commercial-scale low-emissions steel facility in North America.

For Prospective Buyers

We need ambitious corporate buyers of steel to join forces. By committing to the Sustainable Steel Buyers Platform, your company will join leading corporations to advance the demand for low-emissions steel.

Benefits to participating organizations include:

  • Market intelligence on producer readiness and green premiums
  • Access to new procurement tools and latest claims guidance to ensure credibility
  • Pathway to demonstrate action on supply chain emissions targets
  • Gain early market access to low-emissions steel production

When considering joining the SSBP, please remember:

  • Data ownership and accessibility is limited to SSBP members and RMI, under an established Data Governance Protocol
  • Contracting post-RFP is bilaterally negotiated between buyers and selected supplier(s)
  • There is no obligation to participate in future RFPs

For Prospective Suppliers

The request for proposal (RFP) will be open to all iron or steel producers and their supply chain partners capable of delivering near-zero emissions steel to North America. The SSBP Platform will launch the RFP on behalf of the buyers group. All interested suppliers who can meet Platform qualifications are welcome to submit a proposal.

Responses to the subsequent RFP process will be evaluated based on alignment with Platform membership volume and emissions threshold requirements, competitive green premium, and likelihood to satisfy delivery requirements. Once a proposal is selected, Platform members will have the opportunity to individually negotiate advanced offtake agreements with the selected producer based on the emissions performance and associated green premium established in the RFP.

For the first RFP, the SSBP will consider proposals that meet the following criteria:

  • Sufficient capacity at ~1-2Mt of near-zero steel with delivery by 2030
  • Project would meet the stated emissions threshold at the iron and steel product level
  • Transparent iron and steel lifecycle emissions to validate emissions claims

Announcements

Major Corporations Come Together to Advance the First Commercial Batch of Sustainable Steel in the US

Press Release

Learn More

FAQs

RMI is convening ambitious steel purchasers in a two-stage process: a request-for-information (RFI) and a request-for-proposal (RFP), launched on behalf of platform members.

The RFI was launched in Q3 2023 to seek input from steel producers on timelines, technology, and emissions thresholds for near-zero steel, as well as preference for structuring a potential green premium over a diverse range of steel products. The RFP will confirm the steelmakers’ proposed projects and associated green premium.

No. SSBP members are working collaboratively to set core design features of the RFP up to the point of price discovery on the green premium. Following this, the buyers will negotiate individual offtake agreements based on the collectively discovered green premium and other offtake arrangements (e.g., steel specifications, pricing, etc.).

Buyers are working collaboratively under the SSBP to achieve sufficient demand volume (via offtake agreements) that would enable a steelmaker to make the large capital investment necessary to transition or build a new near-zero-emissions facility. In doing so, the buyers aim to put forward a common definition of near-zero-emissions steel that can help steelmakers design their emissions reduction investment strategy.

We welcome all ambitious buyers committed to establishing offtake for near zero emissions steel to deliver on their emissions reduction targets. The buyers group will be composed of purchasers with significant annual steel consumption in North America (i.e., >10,000 t/year) who are able to commit to purchasing steel several years ahead of delivery.

The North American RFI and RfP will be open to all iron and steel producers (and their upstream and technology partners) to submit a response.

Amplifying clean demand signals is critical for the energy transition. The SSBP is complementary to efforts that focus on gaining commitments for lower-emissions steel purchasing, by providing the next step towards offtake for buyers. We are working closely with these groups to ensure the SSBP process can help deliver on corporate targets and pledges.

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